Baby Registry Tips for Parents on a Budget

It's no secret that setting up a nursery can be a pricey endeavor. Experts share some of the best budget gear for expecting parents who are creating a cost-conscious registry.

An image of a pregnant woman on a computer.
Photo: Getty Images.

There's no denying that the costs associated with a newborn baby are very steep. It's a reality that can be even more challenging when money is tight all around. The good news is that you can create a great baby registry filled with items that won't bust anyone's budget (including your own if you end up having to buy some of the registry items yourself.)

Here are some of the cost-conscious baby must-haves that will ensure your nursery is thoroughly outfitted for your bundle of joy, as well as some tips and hacks from experts to make the most of your registry.

Budget-friendly baby gear

  • Delta Children Heartland 4-in-1 Convertible Crib
    Cribs are one of the most expensive items on registries, says Karen Reardanz, editorial director at Babylist, a baby registry website. But the Delta Children Heartland 4-in-1 Convertible Crib ($140 from Walmart) offers a more affordable option. "You also get the most bang for your buck as this crib converts to a daybed, a toddler bed, and ultimately a full-size headboard," Reardanz tells Parents.
  • Babylist Bottle Box
    Babylist's own Bottle Box ($33 for five bottles) saves new parents money by offering a variety of baby bottle shapes and styles to try out in one kit. "This a great solution for people who tend to register for, or buy an entire set of bottles, which is often expensive, only to realize their baby doesn't like them," says Reardanz.
  • Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump
    Breast pumps can be incredibly expensive, which is why this manual pump from Medela is such a noteworthy deal for budget conscious families at just $26, says Reardanz. "It's a great option for moms wanting to save on breast pumps and ease into breastfeeding," explains Reardandz. "The Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump features a controlled vacuum allowing the most optimal comfort level and efficient flow of breastmilk."
  • Infantino Flip Advanced 4-in-1 Carrier
    A baby carrier for just $33? Yes, please. The Infantino Flip Advanced 4-in1 Carrier is lightweight, breathable, and adjustable to fit a variety of parent shapes and sizes, says Reardanz. "It also works with newborns through toddlers, so you'll get years out of it," Reardanz explains.
  • Cloth diapers
    Old school cloth diapers are not only better for the environment (because they generate far less waste) but they're also far more budget friendly. A 10-pack sells for about $13.99. "Cloth diapers are great because they're thick, highly absorbent and cheap," Michelle Mak, product developer for MewlBaby, tells Parents. "I've used cloth diapers for so many things except as a diaper. They make a great burp cloth, changing pad cover when I'm on the go, or can be used to clean major spills, and even wipe down hands and feet from being outside."
  • Uppi Diaper Pail
    While the $80 price tag for this item may seem a little steep at first, Mak says this purchase well worth the investment, as it will end up saving you cash. "Hands-down the best diaper pail, because you don't have to buy special bags for it. It may cost a bit more than the other ones, but in the long run, you will save money on bags," explains Mak.
  • Mommy's Helper Inflatable Bathtub
    Don't have a bathtub in your house? No problem. This inflatable version is very budget-friendly at $14, says Mak. "This tub is portable, toos and great for travel," adds Mak.
  • Graco Modes Element Travel System
    This stroller retails for just $290 and experts love it. "It can grow with your child from infant to toddler and even comes with a car seat," gear expert Kristin Hood of GoodBuy Gear, a curated marketplace of baby gear, tells Parents.
  • Delta Children LX Deluxe Portable Baby Play Yard with Removable Bassinet and Changing Table
    Julie Ensomo, creator of the site Adaptable Mama, says budget moms can't go wrong with a multi-functional pack n' play, which can be found for as little as $86. "They're more useful and practical than a crib," Ensomo tells Parents. "They can be used for sleeping, as a travel crib, as a playpen, for changing diapers (if it comes with that feature) and it has a lot of accessories. It's just like a standard crib but smaller, lighter and cheaper."
  • Ruvalino Backpack Diaper Bag
    A diaper bag is another baby essential. And it's easy to spend a small fortune on these, but you don't have to. Alli Williams, CEO of FinanciALLI Focused, a financial literacy company that helps families create spending plans, suggests the $33 Ruvalino for those on a tighter budget. "There are fancier ones but this one has plenty of room, serves its purpose and isn't very expensive," Williams tells Parents.

Hacks to make the most of your baby registry

Developing a baby registry with an eye toward minimizing expenses takes careful planning, not to mention thoughtful selection of items that will last as long as possible and provide the most value for the price.

To help with this process, budget lifestyle expert Andrea Woroch recommends rethinking all of the gadgets on your registry list.

"There are so many baby gadgets out there that parents hope will make caring for their newborn easier, but keep in mind that many of these items will only be used for a short period during the first year, so don't want to go overboard," Woroch tells Parents. "Instead of crowding your registry with all these gadgets, figure out which one you really want, and identify items that you can borrow from family and friends if they've recently had a baby."

You'll also want to use your registry to request those everyday baby items and necessities that can quickly become a major expense.

"Add daily essentials you know you need and will use to your registry including diapers, wipes, baby detergent, and toiletries," says Woroch.

And here's another hack you may not have considered—create multiple baby registries. In fact, create baby registries everywhere you can.

"Not only does creating multiple registries give loved ones plenty of shopping options, but this strategy also gives you access to a variety of registry perks across different stores," says Woroch. "For example, Target offers parents-to-be who create a baby registry a free welcome kit valued at $150, as well as a 15 percent off coupon to apply to all items left in the registry. And Amazon also offers a registry completion discount at 10 percent for non-Prime members and 15 percent for Prime Members."

Nancy Lee, president of MyRegistry, suggests this move as well. "All of the major baby retailers give you benefits for creating a baby registry. Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Buy Buy Baby will send expecting mothers free samples. No need to settle, try them all," Lee tells Parents.

When you're creating a budget-oriented registry, be sure to select items in a variety of price ranges, ensuring that family, friends, and other loved ones can find something within their price point.

"Do not hesitate to include even under $20 items like bottles and pacifiers. Let everyone be comfortable to participate in showering you with something," says Lee.

For those more expensive items, such as strollers, you might even suggest group gifting allowing multiple people to chip in. And finally, be clear on what your priorities are and which items you need the most, says Lee.

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